Tips for virtual meetings

video-conference and the perils of working remotely 1200

My Manager has called another in a series of virtual meetings.

Question. Was your last conference call amazingly useful, well managed, succinct and full of actions that you all implemented successfully?

Likely Answer. Not completely no!

Many of you will work in rapidly changing businesses, or at least have progressive views on the use of tech within your businesses. Which means that some of you will be very familiar with virtual meetings already – but that doesn’t mean everyone in your teams and contributing to your projects are. Often this spectrum of familiarity can lead to issues on getting the most from your virtual meetings.

So before we look at some simple things you can do, always remember that a virtual call is different than a face to face meeting in that we don’t get as much chance to use our body language so what we say is much more relevant.

Improving your virtual meetings

Sometimes getting a direct and forthcoming response to your questions can be a struggle, which should remind us to use people names: Asking open questions usually results in stony silence and by using people’s names it lets them know who should respond and who you want to hear from – at least that will start the ball rolling, as some people are less willing to get involved on a virtual conference call than they would be in the office!
5 more ways to make your next conference call better:

How can we improve the experience with a little better preparation – particularly if we are organising them?

  1. Do you have to arrange it in the first place – is this the best way to communicate your current message? Or would an email work just as well?
    Do we actually need to discuss something or is it a cascade of info – if so, sometimes an email makes more sense. Make sure it’s essential. It’s nice to see each other faces and hear familiar voices but we will be doing a lot of this over the coming weeks so don’t burn up the trust with pointless conference calls.
  1. How long does it need to last? Will it only take 5-10 minutes? If so, don’t make it fit your diary slot and run from 1.30-2.00pm otherwise people will fill the slot with discussion and it will waste valuable time that people could have been busy doing really essential things instead.
  1. Make sure that the main discussion zeroes in on actions. What do people need to do after the call? What will they be responsible for doing? So, if you begin with this in mind and then decide on content and agenda things will be more succinct and work better and everyone will be happier.
  1. Make the title of the call interesting; whoever got excited to sit on an “update” call?
    So make the focus about the benefit or action that will result from the call; such as, “establishing ways that we can maintain strong customer relationships remotely” or “sharing tips on staying motivated to hit our sales metrics this quarter”. Put yourselves in the shoes of the person receiving the invite to join the call. Make them want to be a part of it and get them to prepare as best they can to contribute. The more they know beforehand – the more prepared they will be.
  1. After the call has finished – make contact and remind everyone what was agreed. The minute the call ends, email/message participants the agreed action list clearly outlining who is doing what, by when and any other relevant and useful info. How many times has momentum been built during discussions to be lost after you all disperse – this is magnified when people have a lot to do at home whilst working too as is the case during this rapid period of adjustment. Looking after family and friends, sorting medical needs and worrying about having enough food and provisions while lockdown impacts shopping isles! So keep the momentum and manage expectations together.

Virtual meetings will likely constitute larger and larger parts of our collaborative working now that many of us are working from home- so try these tips out and let us know what other tips you have to making these calls more enjoyable, productive and useful for everyone?